Day 88. Let the other person save face.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 88.  Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Today I was reviewing the task list and noticed that “Bob” a contract employee had not submitted his work.  Although he has known about the assignment for at least a month and a half he missed the deadline.  He didn’t even contact me to let me know there was a problem or that the assignment would be turned in late.  Nothing! 

I knew this was an opportunity for a particular Dale Carnegie principle that I’m not very good at using.  So I decided to send Bob an email:

Hi Bob,
I wanted to check in with you and see how you are coming along on the XYZ project.  I can’t wait to see it.  Send me an email when you get a chance.   

Smiling Daffodil. 

I heard from Bob right away:

“Dear Smiling Daffodil,
I am ashamed to say I didn’t complete the task.  I’ve been burdened trying to figure out how to complete it.  I feel really bad about it—it’s not my best work.  I have attached a preview of what I have done so far—tell me the truth—if you think I should throw it away and start over let me know.

Very sincerely,

Well—how could I not smile with such a funny and overly dramatic email from Bob? 

He offered some other details about why he was having a hard time with the assignment.  Having this information served two purposes.  I was able to get all the facts before jumping to the wrong conclusion that Bob was just a careless, irresponsible employee.  And I was able to give Bob some encouragement and the opportunity to save face.

My response to Bob:
Dear Bob,
I am sorry you struggled with this assignment!  I reviewed what you sent and so far it looks great!  Yes, please go ahead and complete the assignment—but work at your own pace and once you are finished I will find make sure we use your work.

Smiling Daffodil

I also volunteered some tips by pointing to my own challenges and struggles with similar projects. 

Bob responded and expressed great relief and appreciation for the tips.  He also told me he will finish the task and submit his work by the end of the week.

The Dale Carnegie principles I used in this story are from How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:
Get all the facts.
Let the other person save face.

Let the other person save face

I chose not to send a frustrated or angry email to Bob explaining how his delay has caused challenges for me.  Bob has his own concerns—he probably doesn’t care about mine.  So I decided to get all the facts before making assumptions.  When I did this—I was able to learn that Bob was discouraged with his work and I was able to give him the encouragement he needed to complete the assignment.

So remember, while it is easy to jump to conclusions—don’t.  Get all the facts first.  Treat individuals with respect and don’t belittle them as you get all the facts.  When you do this you will discover ways to give them the encouragement they need to willingly complete their work. 

Housekeeping / Notes:

  • In light of today’s blog topic I feel the need to confess.  My posts are technically a day off.  I’m a night owl—by the time I write my blog about the day’s events it’s technically the next morning—usually 1 or 2 am.  Let’s just continue to go with my delusions.  In my world I make my deadlines….
  • With that said, Wednesday marks an important day for a very special guest blogger.  I’m so excited to share the story and technically it’s ready to be posted…. but I’m going to make everyone wait until Wednesday evening.  So do your evening routine, have dinner, etc and then tune in for a very high quality story from a friend and role model.  I am certain his story will impact you. 

Thank you everyone!

Day 45: Abraham Lincoln kept me from getting into a fight via email.

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 45.  Monday, May 9, 2011
I sent an email to Bob today:
Hi Bob,
I’m putting together a marketing campaign for the soon to be released product XYZ.  I am hoping you can assist me.  Do you have a promo available for the product?  I’d love to put it on our website.

Thank you!
Smiling Daffodil.

Bob’s response:
Hi Smiling Daffodil,
I have attached a photo showing the CD your office should have received back in March.  Let me know if you are unable to locate the CD—if you can’t, I guess I can send you the very last CD I have.


It was at this point I decided to take a break and go get some chocolate.  As you can imagine—my natural instinct was to email Bob a snide remark or two or three.  Instead I remembered Dale Carnegie quoting Abraham Lincoln, “Don’t criticize them; they are just what we would be under similar circumstances.”

After going out to get some fresh air and some chocolate I decided the best approach is to not respond to Bob today.  I have also come up with material I can use for the marketing campaign that doesn’t interrupt Bob’s busy schedule. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used in this example is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 26.  Let the other person save face.

The background to the story—the CD that Bob sent back in March was lost by an associate.  I didn’t want to throw my associate under the bus.  Before my associate accidentally misplaced the CD, I did review it—and it wasn’t a promo video.  In addition—I didn’t point out to Bob that he could easily copy the CD.  Or even ftp the files to the server.  These were all glaringly obvious options to someone who is moderately tech savvy but I concluded from Bob’s email that he wasn’t too skilled in these areas.  So I have opted to gather marketing materials from other sources.

The lesson I want you to take from this story—it can be difficult dealing with people with skill levels and aptitudes that may not be on par with yours.  There’s no point in making them feel small, incapable or inferior.  Remind yourself that they are probably very skilled and have great abilities in other areas.  In fact, they probably excel in areas that you do not.  When you take this approach you are able to stay focused on getting work done without wasting time on pettiness, negativity or blame.

Day 40. How to get someone to open your email

365 Days of Living the Dale Carnegie Principles

Day 40.  May 4, 2011
Preface:  I considered skipping my own blog post since I had a guest blogger but somehow that seems to break the rules.

It’s Wednesday and I still haven’t received a response about an email I sent LAST week. 

This is why I have to do things myself—I quietly mutter to myself.  On the other hand—this is probably an opportunity to use a Dale Carnegie principle… grumble.

You see, I delegated a task (so hard to do) to an associate last week.  I asked him to follow up with a client about an urgent matter.  I could have done the task myself but I thought why not delegate for a change.

Before stepping on toes today I asked my associate if he had any updates from the client.  He said the client is impossible to reach.  So I delicately mentioned I’d try following up with the client directly. 

 I drafted the following email to the client:
Email Subject line:  Great news about the response to your product XYZ!Body of email:
Dear ABC Company,

We are so excited to report about the positive response to your revolutionary new product.  I’m sure you must also be pleased with the results of the marketing campaign.

We’ve had a few inquiries from prospects interested in your products but they are unable to get the information they need from your company’s website.  I’ve done some research on my own to try to give them the information they need—but not being an expert on your product or website—I’m afraid I’m not the best at assisting them.

I just wanted to make sure you were aware of these inquiries.  Please let me know if I carelessly missed this information on your website.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 
The Smiling Daffodil

 As you would guess I got a response within the hour. 

The Dale Carnegie principle I used in this scenario is from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Principle 8.  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Principle 26.  Let the other person save face.

Let the other person save face

Instead of writing a subject line like “Problem with your website” or “This is the 2nd email request I’ve sent”—I spoke in terms of the client’s interest.  My client is interested in gaining new prospects and making the sale.

Then in the body of the email I continued to speak in my client’s interests.  I politely suggested that product information might be missing from his website—but not being an expert I could be mistaken.  The client was quick to fix the mistake and respond within the hour.

Remember, it’s easy to jump down someone’s throat and tell them they have done something wrong.  But when was the last time you felt motivated to correct your own mistakes under those conditions.  Instead—season your words with respect for the other person.  Don’t tell them they’ve done something wrong or point out they have ignored your 10 million email requests.  Instead, speak in terms of their interests.  This will make them more receptive to your suggestions.  When you take this approach you let the other person save face and you are able to get the results you are seeking.